2, Number 1, Oct 2001
Campus Mediation Systems:
History in the Making (page 3 of 3)
and University Legal Affairs
coming somewhat later, there has also been an increase
in mediation workshops and training for college and university
legal counsel. Efforts in this area have been lead by
the National Association of College and University Attorneys
(NACUA), which now has a separate Litigation and ADR Committee.
NACUA sponsored two trainings during 1995-96 for university
attorneys in non-litigious methods of resolving disputes.
The trend of involving university counsel is also apparent
from the growing number of workshops on mediation appearing
at the various annual conferences on law and higher education
(Cavenagh 1994; Zdziarski and Jackson 1994).
Becomes Almost a "Household Word"
should be noted that all this ADR activity on campus
was not occurring in isolation. Significant changes
have been occurring in North America that have greatly
increased public awareness of mediation, and lead
to an increase in the availability of experienced
conflict intervenors. In his article on campus conflict
work and democratic values Geoffrey Wallace (Wallace
1993) summarizes some of these important indicators
of societal acceptance of mediation generally. He
systems in the United States have changed a great
deal in recent years. Between 1977 and 1987, neighborhood
dispute programs grew from approximately three
neighborhood dispute centers to over three hundred
centers. The Multi-Door court house system in
Washington, DC handled 15,000 cases in 1985. In
the areas of arbitration and mediation, there
have been major increases in their use as evidenced
by the revenue to those who provide these services.
In 1992, the American Arbitration Association
made 37 million dollars handling 60,000 cases;
Endispute made 4.8 million dollars; Judicate made
4.0 million dollars; and, judicial mediation and
arbitration made 25 million dollars. The increased
use of mediation and arbitration remedies has
been accompanied by an expanded array of conflict
systems now available.
Visibility of Diversity Conflicts on Campus
important trend on campus has to do with increased
attention to conflicts over race, ethnicity, and
gender. During the late1980s, campuses began to
more publicly grapple with an increasing range
of disputes relating to diversity issues. In the
Spring of 1988 PBS Television aired a FRONTLINE
documentary entitled Racism 101 that explored
the disturbing increase in racial incidents and
violence on America's college campuses. The attitudes
of black and white students revealed increasing
tensions at some of the country's best universities.
In 1990, a Carnegie Foundation Report by Earnest
Boyer entitled Campus Life: In Search of Community
aired concerns by administrators and faculty about
the loss of community on campus. Research conducted
for the report found that 68% of presidents of
large research and doctoral institutions felt
that race relations was a problem on their campus,
with the average across all types of institutions
being closer to 25%. Approximately 50% of chief
student affairs officers at all the institutions
surveyed felt that conflict resolution workshops
were now very important, with an additional
35% saying they were somewhat important. A full
77% felt that developing better procedures for
handling complaints and grievances was between
somewhat and very important for their institutions.
Sylvia Hurtado's research and subsequent Journal
of Higher Education article entitled "The
Campus Racial Climate: Contexts of Conflict"
(Hurtado 1992) also captured the attention of
many higher education administrators.
Karleen Karlson, director of the mediation project
at SUNY Albany, was one of a number of authors
who have argued that campus mediation projects
increase in significance as campuses diversify
(Karlson 1991). She states
a campus' demographics change, the demand by
new groups for a campus voice - and a piece
of campus resources brings an accompanying amount
of "muscle flexing" - self-assertion,
testing other groups, challenging the administration
- which causes tension in the college as the
groups seek to establish themselves within the
larger community. Campuses that wish to become
more culturally diverse need to consider using
the services of a mediation center.
the early 1990s presentations, articles,
and special demonstration projects began to more
carefully explore the use of mediation as one
response to diversity disputes (Avery 1990; Hartzog
1995; Volpe and Witherspoon 1992; Wing 1994) Larger,
systemwide initiatives to address diversity-related
conflicts on campus also began to emerge across
the country, in places such as New York, Michigan,
California, and New Jersey. I was personally involved
as a lead trainer in the New Jersey effort, wherein
the Department of Higher Education for the State
of New Jersey provided a $100,000 grant to Jersey
City State College in 1989. The grant included
a statewide student leadership initiative on race
relations and conflict resolution that brought
together students (minority and majority)
and staff from all 54 New Jersey campuses for
weekend workshop/retreats on diversity and conflict
resolution skills training.
Concern over sexual harassment and sexual assault
on campus also grew tremendously during the 1990s
(Riggs and Murrell 1993). Mediation of sexual
harassment and sexual assault cases became a controversial
topic as experiments with the use mediation as
a response increased in visibility and scope.
(Cloke 1988; Gadlin and Paludi 1990; Sisson and
Todd 1995; Weddle 1992).
Dispute Systems Design Initiatives
the early 1990s within the larger Conflict
Management/ADR field there emerged an increasing
awareness of the benefits of taking a systemic
approach to organizational conflict management,
spurred by the publication of Ury, Brett, and
Goldbergs volume Getting Disputes Resolved:
Designing Systems to Cut the Costs of Conflict
in 1988 and the special October 1989 issue of
the Negotiation Journal on Dispute Systems Design.
Interest in ADR systems design spread to campuses
as well, with MIT Ombuds Mary Rowe at the forefront,
writing about integrated campus dispute systems
in her articles "People Who Feel Harassed
Need a Complaint System With Both Formal and
Informal Options" (Rowe 1990) and "The
Ombudsman Role in a Dispute Resolution System."
(Rowe 1991) appearing in Harvard's Negotiation
Journal. A number of university systems, most
notably the University of Georgia system and
the City University of New York system, and
the University of Missouri system, have taken
on the challenging task of system-wide initiatives
to improve dispute resolution practices across
entire multi-campus university systems. These
efforts should bear considerable fruit in the
years to come.
Maturation of the Higher Ed ADR Field
addition to these larger scale organizing
efforts, we are now seeing a variety of smaller
signs suggesting the general maturation of
the field. These include increased use of
internet discussion groups and websites as
networking tools among campus dispute resolvers,
and regional meetings of campus mediation
programs to supplement annual national gatherings.
There is increasing availability of college
and university conflict resolution trainings
targeted toward for staff and faculty, and
a growing emphasis on preparing campus mediators
to handle more complex conflicts involving
issues of culture, race and gender. Special
summer institutes and seminars on campus conflict
resolution are now being offered to national
and international groups of participants.
Campus programs are also now moving beyond
interpersonal disputes and are beginning to
intervene in more complex and larger group
conflicts involving a wider range of campus
are also seeing the continued spread of mediation
techniques to previously undeveloped areas
such as community colleges. Also significant
is the move to take conflict resolution services
off-campus, as programs focus on forging new
links with off-campus constituencies. There
appears to be a gradual move toward institutionalization
of mediation as a preferred mode of dispute
resolution on campus, signified by the gradual
development of campus grievance policies that
write mediation into their basic procedures.
In addition, discussions are now underway
about the development of national standards
of practice for campus mediators.
campus mediation and alternative dispute resolution
practices have come a long way since the early
ombuds programs came on the scene in 1967
as a new bird on campus. Having
a mediation program is now being seen as good
business practice on campus. Evidence of this
is provided by the National Association of
College and University Business Officers (NACUBO),
who gave $10,000 in award money to a campus
conflict resolution project (University of
Texas, San Antonio) as part of their annual
Higher Education Awards Program recognizing
initiatives that improve the quality and reduce
the cost of higher education programs and
As this article reveals, the past 3 decades
have shown steady growth and change in higher
educations approaches to conflict. As
mediation appears to be entering the campus
mainstream, we can look hopefully forward
at what the next decade. In terms of networking
and access to information on building programs,
the new Education Section of the Association
for Conflict Resolution, and the FIPSE-funded
national Campus Conflict Resolution Resources
initiative (http://www.campus-adr.org) hold
out great promise for the future. Higher education,
conflict prone as it may be, may
also be a domain that truly learns from conflict
and gains strength as a result. Only time
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project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
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